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Ministry wants to facilitate the use of Russian rolling stock on Finnish railways: JHL’s rail professionals emphasises endangerment to safety

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is advocating a legislative amendment with the help of which it would be possible to use Russian rolling stock for raw timber transports within Finland, too. The use of the rolling stock binds Finland to Russia and brings risks to shunting, JHL’s rail professionals reminds. In addition, the brakes of the rolling stock are not up to EU standards, and there is no reliable information available on maintenance history.

A legislative amendment is being prepared in Finland which would, at worst, endanger the health of rail employees and weather Finland’s rail network. This is a legislative amendment advocated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It would allow the use of Russian rolling stock units in timber transports within Finland. According to the current stipulations, it is allowed to use the rolling stock units in international transport.

Already in 2016, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi (currently Traficom) stated that there are large deficiencies in the Russian rolling stock.

– The braking system and braking capacity are not up to EU standards. When Russian rolling stock is used for transportation, the speed has to be lower. The rolling stock units lack certain safe parts almost entirely. This causes large risks to shunting employees and slows down the shunting of rolling stock units significantly, reminds Teppo Järnstedt, chair of JHL’s rail professionals.

The amendment will bind Finland to Russian rolling stock units

One would also not get reliable information on the rolling stock units’ condition, because it is impossible to look into their maintenance history. In addition, the use of Russian rolling stock units places a burden on Finnish railways. The rolling stock units have a different axle width and wheel profile compared to Finnish rolling stock.

The legislative amendment would in the future be binding to Finns, because it would be necessary to buy reserve parts for the rolling stock units from Russia. Although the legislative amendment is supposed to be a temporary one, there is a risk that it will become permanent. JHL’s rail professionals regard the whole legislative amendment as very questionable, Järnstedt underlines.

– In terms of energy, the aim is to be self-sufficient and independent from Russian energy import. However, in terms of raw timber transports, there is a desire to bind transports to Russian rolling stock with the legislative amendment. Primarily, it would be necessary to look into how raw timber transport can be organised using Finnish rolling stock.

JHL’s rail professionals has submitted a statement on the draft law concerning the matter. The Finnish Parliament will start to consider the law in April 2022.